Show Me the Money
Vegetation Management Video c 1994

The Goal / The Budget / Distribution / Endorsements

Fire, Lies and Videotape

We've chosen this slogan because of the structural similarity to a popular film. We put people on camera and let them appear to talk freely about their lives in the interface zone. Thus, the "plot" of the video flows from the experiences of a few mainstream citizens living or working on the fringes of suburbia.

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First, a brush cutter (Cliff Murray), then an " old timer" who is on intimate terms with the plants and animals of the "interface zone" (Don Coyne), and finally a native plant retailer, weave their stories within the framework provided by the narrator. This simple and straight forward structure ensures that expensive and time consuming tape editing and consequent jarring breaks in the story line will be kept to a minimum.

Bankable Ideas

The goal of the video is to educate, entertain, and motivate the people living in the suburban-wildlands interface zone. The primary intent of the video is to help prevent a Berkeley hills type fire from striking the Berkeley hills specifically, and the Bay Area in general.

Generally, we hope to encourage homeowners to do for the environment what they won't do for themselves. We want homeowners to take their fuel reduction problems seriously, in their backyards and beyond.

An Ounce of Prevention

Even four thousand dollars in grant money, applied with matching funds in the right way at the right time, could go a long way towards preventing another disaster on the scale of the $1.5 billion dollar Berkeley hills/Tunnel Hill fire. A recent fire in Los Gatos, caused by sparks from a PG&E power line, will cost the utility at least $1.5 million.

There is no doubt that thick stands of exotic Scotch Broom, eucalyptus and homes with wood shingle roofs contributed to this disaster. Despite this, one unfortunate and ill informed homeowner was quoted as saying, "There's nothing you can do about it." At least three homes were destroyed and fortunately no one was injured or killed. Had the firemen arrived just a few minutes later or had the wind been blowing just a little harder, a nursing home just down the hill could have been destroyed with frightful loss of life.

Virgin Territory

To the best of our knowledge, no one has yet produced a film that intentionally straddles the fence between fire safety issues and environmental issues. Thus, our long term goals are to encourage public support for habitat enhancement projects in the County parks and reshape public opinion regarding the role of fire in nature.

Smokey the Bear should remain a symbol of fire safety but not an icon for ecosystem health. Some purists maintain that in the wild, "fire, like the wolf, balances the hand of life with death". I'm not sure we can afford wilderness values in suburbia but I admire that spirit.

The Goal / The Budget / Distribution / Endorsements

OUR BUDGET FOR A PILOT PROJECT

MPAC video camera rental (20 days @ $10/day) $200
MPAC off-line editing equipment (80 hours @ $5/hour) $400
Tour Bus Rental (8 hours @ $100/hour) $800
Tool rental (Brushcutter's scene) (4hours @ $100/hour) $400
Computer rental-for screenplay rewrites-40 hours @ 10/hour $400
Tickets and towing $200

3/4 inch videotapes (10 @$10 each)

(These tapes will go out to cable and PBS stations.)

$100
VHS video copies (150 @$5 each) * $625
Phone, fax and postage $200
Administrative Overhead & Director's Compensation $825
TOTAL $4,250

Our expenditures will follow this rough time line over the course of the three month production schedule:

A) Pre-production costs $1,000
B) Production costs $2,000
C) Post-production costs $1,250
Total
$4,250

 

 

The Game Plan

This is a ballpark estimate of what it will take to produce and distribute a 28.5 minute video. I say ballpark because securing financing for a film project like this is a process that really never stops. But if a donor wants to be the last funding source and take full credit for the deed, we will make an exception to that rule and halt fund raising. Generally speaking, in Hollywood, no one remembers the producer who cranks out a mediocre picture on time and under budget. The trick is to do it with style.

We'd like to leverage our grant money with matching funds from another foundation or the County of San Mateo Fish & Game Fine Money fund but we won't waste any time getting started once we have "The Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval" that comes with official support. In any case, when the grant check comes in, the author will do his best to make himself absent from the set and proceed to rewrite the script for use in other Bay Area Counties.

The general idea is to film a pilot project and then to film deluxe versions elsewhere in the Bay Area with the budget increased by a factor of 10. This added complexity may justify the purchase of $500 worth of movie industry budgeting software from Fry's Electronics to keep track of our spending using account numbers.

Support the Arts

Please do what you can to help secure funding for this vitally important project. We are trying to incorporate as a 501 (c)(3) so that wealthy donors can encourage the arts and receive a tax break for their generosity.

Appreciatively, Steve Kennedy
Executive Producer (650) 473-9313

The Goal / The Budget / Distribution / Endorsements

Distribution


The Cannonbal Express will be displayed at video stores,
like these titles on the Special Interest Shelves.

Other copies will be distributed free of charge to homeowner's associations, city councils, realtors, fire stations, plant nurseries, hardware stores, environmental centers, video stores, public libraries and to the hundred or so private parties and organizations that have endorsed the film in its pre-production phase.

True Artistry

Support from a broad cross section of society does not guarantee success but it provides a ready made distribution channel above and beyond plans to mail the video to homeowner associations, fire stations, environmental centers, city councils, and plant nurseries. The video will also be broadcast over the AT&T MPAC cable network to the residents of Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Atherton and the Stanford Campus.Plans have also been laid to broadcast from KTEH -TV54, KCSM -TV60, and KQED -TV9. This overlapping coverage ensures widespread distribution of our video.

The Goal / The Budget / Distribution / Endorsements

Endorsed By The Experts

While I have a portfolio of 50 resumes from interested and qualified parties already, the academically degreed experts in wildlife biology, urban planning, and fire prevention and control will be enlisted only as consultants in post production to ensure the technical accuracy of the production and they will not appear on film as talking heads. They surely could, however, appear in a possible sequel to come later or in a version customized for a particular audience and funded separately.

The PC is a remarkable tool for video production and there is a great deal of ground breaking work to be done on the subject of vegetation management. I have copyrighted my work but the project has an open architecture.

At the moment, vegetation management is not even something that established environmental organizations are inclined to pursue. The Sierra Club, for example, went on record in opposition to (?!) the vegetation management plan proposed for the Mt. Tamalpais watersheds. Apparently, the first regrowth from the seed bed on 300 acres of control burns wouldn't have a "natural" enough mix of native plant species.

So, if we film it, the change will come. The alternative is to let another two dozen people die horrible screaming deaths by fire while trapped in their cars on narrow winding streets up in the hills. I prefer to make the film.

Grassroots Support

We have been endorsed by over a hundred influential members of our society, proving that this project does represent ideas that are sound and well thought out. This does not mean that this project is some kind of horse designed by a committee. There is a single hand that guides this project and a single hand will see it completed.

This project did not arise spontaneously from the primordial soup of our culture. Even if there are gleanings from many different sources without the benefit of footnotes this project represents a tremendous effort. This project is the work of an iconclastic artist now but when it is finished it will look like the prototypical grass roots effort. There are many stakeholders on this issue, their voices will be heard but they will not be allowed to spoil the soup. Simply put, we are a good bet and vegetation management is an idea whose time has come.

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